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Discussion Starter #1
I had my local Toyota dealership go through our Spyder after purchasing it in September, checking cats et al and replacing all fluids (except blinker fluid since this isn't a Bimmer). One of those was the manual transmission fluid. Immediately after I noticed that the transmission is much, much stiffer at first until it gets "warmed up". And even at that point it's still pretty stiff in comparison. I've had many MT cars and replaced the fluid at higher mileage, but never had such a "jump" in feel like this. In fact, I've never had any change in feel.

The techs scratched the car in multiple places when they worked on it which means they're pretty careless in my opinion. It's not a Ferrari, but dammit this is a rare car! Their lack of respect has me questioning their technical competence.

Thoughts on the transmission?
 

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First of all never take your car to a Toyota dealer. Find a competent import mechanic in your area. Anybody who can work on a Toyota Corolla can work on your car. It's the same under the hood.

Who knows what fluid was used with your transmission. Who knows whether it is at the correct level. By now you would know if the drain plug had not been replaced but check anyway. Ha ha. Also make sure that the trans is not pouring fluid out of anywhere else. Your symptoms are consistent with low fluid level.

To be on the safe side, drain the trans and replace whatever fluid is there. The suggested fluid is Redline MT-90. Many many owners have good results with this fluid. Another fluid with a good following is Amsoil synthetic. You will need two quarts. Use a fluid with a GL-4 rating. No matter what anyone says about compatibility, do not use a GL-5 fluid.
 

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I'll disagree with the frankster .... he lives in Hawaii and probably don't encounter any temp below 50 degrees . You really didn't say where you reside but here in Illinois were it gets below freezing the trans fluid definitely gets stiff . So I'm saying it sounds perfectly normal what you're experiencing .... after a few minutes it warms up and then shifts normal .
 

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You are referring to a 165,000 square mile state, the third biggest in the country. We have more biomes than you have coconuts. You drive 10 miles out of your city and the temp can change 30F. Couple days ago I saw a movie in Mountain View and when I left it was at freezing temp.Thankfully that's not low enough to really affect the trans too much. Shift feel barely changes from cold to warm. But I've felt the change before.
 

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I use the amsoil GL4 and can feel the difference when it's below 40F outside. A few minutes of driving and the trans is back to normal. I would still check for leaks and make sure the fluid level is right thou.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll disagree with the frankster .... he lives in Hawaii and probably don't encounter any temp below 50 degrees . You really didn't say where you reside but here in Illinois were it gets below freezing the trans fluid definitely gets stiff . So I'm saying it sounds perfectly normal what you're experiencing .... after a few minutes it warms up and then shifts normal .
Thanks for the feedback! Sorry, I tried to be complete without rambling on. I'm in Salt Lake City. I had it all done in early October with daily temps running mid-70s at that point. It was noticeable the very next day (at same ambient temps). I was more pissed at the scratched paint upon getting the car back, but afterwards started paying attention to things that really mattered. Even after warming up, it's stiffer than before. I'm not EXACTLY complaining, but I also don't feel like replacing a transmission just yet! Charlotte has about 78k miles, hiding in its garage while the salt and snow are around. (And yes, my 10 year-old named the car after the book she'd just read.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I use the amsoil GL4 and can feel the difference when it's below 40F outside. A few minutes of driving and the trans is back to normal. I would still check for leaks and make sure the fluid level is right thou.
Excellent! I definitely shall. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
First of all never take your car to a Toyota dealer. Find a competent import mechanic in your area. Anybody who can work on a Toyota Corolla can work on your car. It's the same under the hood.

Who knows what fluid was used with your transmission. Who knows whether it is at the correct level. By now you would know if the drain plug had not been replaced but check anyway. Ha ha. Also make sure that the trans is not pouring fluid out of anywhere else. Your symptoms are consistent with low fluid level.

To be on the safe side, drain the trans and replace whatever fluid is there. The suggested fluid is Redline MT-90. Many many owners have good results with this fluid. Another fluid with a good following is Amsoil synthetic. You will need two quarts. Use a fluid with a GL-4 rating. No matter what anyone says about compatibility, do not use a GL-5 fluid.
I'd much rather NOT go to a dealership and ideally would like to find a TRD shop, but needs-must.

Not a drop on the garage floor of any type, so that allows me to sleep at night.

Thanks for the suggestions on replacement fluids. When the weather is more conducive to driving it (salted roads right now) I'll get it to a shop and have a dialysis performed!
 

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Shouldn't be too stiff. I use MT90 in my 1ZZ Corolla winter beater, and while the transmission is a bit more stiff when very cold, the change to warm is small and gradual. Internally it is the same gearbox.

FYI, winter here in the great white north can easily get below -40F.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You are referring to a 165,000 square mile state, the third biggest in the country. We have more biomes than you have coconuts. You drive 10 miles out of your city and the temp can change 30F. Couple days ago I saw a movie in Mountain View and when I left it was at freezing temp.Thankfully that's not low enough to really affect the trans too much. Shift feel barely changes from cold to warm. But I've felt the change before.
I'm not going to lie: I'm chuckling at this little geography flame war. Keep it clean, but please continue! lol
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I use the amsoil GL4 and can feel the difference when it's below 40F outside. A few minutes of driving and the trans is back to normal. I would still check for leaks and make sure the fluid level is right thou.
Zero fluid leaks on the garage floor; that's the only thing that allowed me to not lose my cool. Will get it redone at another shop once the salt comes off the roads. Thanks for the advice!
 

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First of all never take your car to a Toyota dealer...
Curious, and yes a bit off topic but why the contempt for Toyota dealer mechanics?
I am all for avoiding dealers on economic grounds, as the dealers that have sold the other cars in my garage would attest, but for 19+ years the Toyota dealer has been the one that has provided great service and guidance/PM recommendations for my MR2. Maybe the brush was a bit broad?

FWIW, in NW PA on the rare day that it is below 32 and the Spyder gets out of the garage shifting is sluggish for 5 or 10 minutes. Afterwards, it feels normal and shifts well.
 

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Curious, and yes a bit off topic but why the contempt for Toyota dealer mechanics?
Other that the fact many of us have had unpleasant experiences with dealer service in general? A dealer will either put in a generic manual transmission fluid, or may actually use the Toyota transmission fluid. They may not even use the proper GL-4 as the manual states GL-5 is OK, although most people suggest sticking with GL-4. But it is unlikely they will use a synthetic.

The synthetic oils tend to work much better at low temps, and often shift better.
 

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Curious, and yes a bit off topic but why the contempt for Toyota dealer mechanics?
Maybe the brush was a bit broad?
The brush may have been a bit broad but overall, (no firsthand experience here) others have said due to the car being a unicorn and as old as it is, Toyota techs usually have no clue to it's specific needs. Your dealer seems to be the exception to the rule.
 

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Check the fluid level.
When I purchased my 2003 MT in 2014, the previous owner had just had a dealer do the 60k service, including changing trans fluid. Never had a leak, breach, etc. Then it locked up while driving 5 months after purchase. When I drained the trans to swap out, there was just half a quart in the trans. Lesson learned.

I’m running Amsoil GL4. Below 30F the first few shifts, say under 10 miles, are stiff. First is by far the hardest and takes a double clutch and second into first attempt. I never force. I ran Redline MT90 previously and I believe it was similarly stiff.

Regarding the scratches, if the ‘scratches’ can be felt running your finger nail across it, that is a true scratch. That’s an issue. If there is no nail feeling depth then try buffing them out. Good luck.
 
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